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Project demonstration today: Stanford's bioengineering boot camp for high schoolers

Flanked by 18-year-old Zoe Nuyens (left) and 17-year-old Justine Sun, Alex Lee, also 17, demonstrates a system for detecting surgical gauze that was designed by local high school students. The trio were among the 26 students who attended at a bioengineering "boot camp" held at Stanford University.This summer, a group of 26 high-school students participated in Stanford's first bioengineering boot camp. Based on the story in yesterday’s Stanford Report, I think it's safe to say these students have a pretty enviable response to the age-old question, “What did you do in school today?”

For starters, they invented a way to help surgeons track and retrieve the gauze placed inside of patients during medical procedures.

Tom Abate describes the origins of “smart gauze” and the new boot camp here:

"Surgical sponges are the most common item left behind in surgeries and they're very difficult to detect," said [17-year-old Alex] Lee, who was one of 26 participants in a free, six-week bioengineering boot camp for high school students organized by Stanford undergraduate Stephanie Young.

Young, a bioengineering student who grew up in San Mateo, Calif., said she got the idea for the boot camp last year after talking with a friend who had gone through a similar intensive summer program in the law.


The boot camp employed the learning-by-building approach honed by Stanford's Product Realization Lab, a teaching environment that offers design and prototyping facilities in support of student product creation. The high school students were presented with a series of real-world challenges and grouped into teams to devise solutions, which they then fashioned in the lab.

The camp's high school students will demonstrate their designs today from 2 to 5 p.m. at the medical school's Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge. This special presentation is open to the public.

Holly MacCormick is a writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. She is a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at University of California-Santa Cruz.

Previously: Image of the Week: CIRM intern Christina Bui’s summer project and Image of the Week: CIRM intern Brian Woo’s summer project
Photo, of students demonstrating a system for detecting surgical gauze, by Steve Castillo

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